Performing arts program at risk with Detroit Public Schools budget cuts

(WXYZ) - Action News has been reporting this week about big budget cuts coming for Detroit Public Schools.  Now, we are learning of one hitting especially deep.  At one of the city's best high schools, a school known around the world for its music and arts program, students are being told they're done.  No more music, no more choir, no more dance.

From today's hits, to Mozart, students in Renaissance High School's performing arts program bring much to life.  At this school, the program isn't just an elective, it's a ticket to possibilities. 

"If it was for Renaissance High School, I would not be in school for free," said former student Jillian Jackson.  "I am at Wayne State University on a full scholarship."

Just a week before school, students are at a total loss. Today they showed me pictures of their music room cleaned out, and they found the instruments had been locked up. Many believe their future is at stake.

So desperate to save the program, students have take to social media. They even started an online petition. At last check, it had over two thousand signatures.

"I feel like taking the arts away is like taking their personalities. It's like saying you are a nobody." said Mirranda Welborn.

They are somebody. They are Detroit's future, Michigan's future, and they want their voices heard.

We took their plight to Michigan's top politician, Governor Rick Snyder, who was in town for his re-election campaign.

Snyder says he's about solutions.  So we asked what he would say to the students. "That's where we all need to pull together, look at our options to keep the programs going," said Governor Snyder.

You can learn more about the petition here: http://www.petitions24.com/save_rhs

The Detroit Public School District would not do an on-camera interview regarding the issue but did release the following statement: The only way to a healthy, sustainable school district is to continue working together, with our students in mind, to grow our enrollment - thereby improving Detroit Public Schools' financial condition, and ultimately leading to restoration of wage and program cuts.

To that end, last year the District developed a year-round Retain and Gain Student Enrollment Campaign that was able to attract nearly 10,000 new students to Detroit Public Schools - reversing a 20-year downward trend.

There was no districtwide decision to cut art or music and, in fact, we have been increasing art and music at the k8 level. Due to districtwide budgetary cuts, some school-based cuts had to be made based on needs of a school community. As we are made aware of parent concerns, we will review those.

In the interim, the district's staff will continue its aggressive enrollment campaign, going block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood, to tell parents and guardians about the offerings throughout our schools. We know that continued enrollment gains, as well as the retention of current students, is the only way that DPS will not only survive, but thrive.

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